Sharing our water

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Sharing OUr Water

Whether on the water for boating, fishing, or watersports, or on the land, exploring the shoreline or living at water’s edge, everyone who enjoys our nation’s waterways, has same right to enjoy the water as you do. As a responsible boater, you should always be mindful of others on or near the water and the aquatic environment. 

A responsible boater is a courteous boater. 

Think of yourself as an aquatic ambassador. Know the laws for your area concerning navigable waters and obey all posted signs and markers. Show your respect the environment and don’t litter. 

All boaters, whether operating motorized or non-motorized craft, should wear a U.S. Coast-Guard approved life jacket, follow the boating “rules of the road” and be aware of rules and regulations for safety and navigation on the water.

 The type of activities you engage in on the water also dictate some of the actions you need to take. Here are some ways to share the water:

Motorized Vessels 

Maintain a safe speed and know who has the right of way when approaching other boats:


• Yield to non-motorized vessels (canoes, kayaks, sailboats, rowboats and paddleboards) 

• When crossing paths, the vessel on the right has the right of way. 

• In a head on approach neither vessel has the right of way; both should slow down and steer to the right

• When passing, the vessel you are passing has the right of way; sound an alert by using one short horn blast if passing on the right, two if on the left

Be aware of your wake and slow down when crossing wakes. Keep a lookout for skiers, wakeboarders and tubers. Try to stay at least 150 feet from other vessels, swimming areas, anglers, etc. If you must pass closer, do so at a no-wake speed.

Keep your engine well tuned and within acceptable noise and emission levels.  


Give other anglers room to fish. A good rule of thumb is to maintain a two-cast distance. Check to make sure the area is clear before you cast and never fish in swimming areas.

Properly dispose of used or tangled fishing line and any entrails from cleaning fish. 

Non-Motorized Craft

Be aware of your surroundings. Stay alert for other boat traffic, both motorized and non-motorized and consider the best way to approach others on the water so you don’t disturb them. 

Respect the rights of anglers, Give them plenty of room and hold your position when approaching an angler who has hooked a fish.

Learn more about how to minimize your impact on the environment and responsible recreation practices at